Raoul Bott

Raoul Bott
Sadly a great mathematician died this winter. Raoul Bott was important enough to score a headlining obituary in the New York Times. He is most famous for a theorem regarding what’s now called Bott Periodicity. It’s a tricky result to describe to a layperson, and not in a field I know very well, but I can tell you this bit of trivia: the periodicity is in some sense eight-fold. Eight happens to be my favorite number; and in the days, years ago, when I was more inclined to dwell on such topics, I made a list of all the reasons eight was my favorite number. Bott periodicity was on that list. Of course, long before that, back in 3rd grade when I was first accepting nominations for favorite number, Bott periodicity wasn’t one of the topics on the table; but, maybe there was something insightful going on in that frog-poking, Transformer-coveting 3rd grade mind of mine.

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